Category Archives: In General

The half-hole

The Nobelprice in Physics was awarde today to the three british researchers David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz for their contribution of the research on ultrathin materials, the plains of the mattter. They used a certain tool, the topology. What I didnot realize so far is that topology is the science of holes: You can not transform a hoop into a ball, the former has a hole in it, the latter not. There are structures with 0,1, 2, 3, … holes which can not be transformed into each other. Interesting.

The Nobel juror Thors Hans Hansson explained this and mentioned that holes can only be whole-numbered. There are not half-holes. This reminded me of Kurt Tucholsky, German pacifist and writer in the first part of the last century who published under the pseudonym Peter Panther a “Zur soziologischen Psychologie der Löcher“, the only English translation I found on this website:

I dare to publish some lines from there:

The Philosophic Sociology of the Hole ( by Peter Panther alias Kurt Tucholsky)
A hole is there, where some-thing is not.
The hole is  the eternal companion of the non-hole.
Hole on it’s own, there is no such a thing, sorry.

If there would be something everywhere, there wouldn’t be any hole,
but there wouldn’t be any philosophy either and certainly no religion, as such that comes out of it.

The mouse couldn’t live without it, neither does man.
It’s the last chance for both of them,  when they are threatened by
the material.
Hole – is always good.

The hole is the fundament of social order and that’s how society is…

Tucholsky would have liked this Nobel prize very much.

Hormones and the Endocrine System

HOrmones and the Endocrines System
Hormones and the Endocrine System

The book has finally been published. This version is the translation of our German book 3rd edition, with some updates due to very recent new developments. The part on Juvenile Hormones was critically read by Prof. Riddiford from the USA and is thus up-to-date. I like to say thank you so much to numerous colleagues who have contributed articles that this book could be written in its present form. It has been a pleasure to work with the Springer people who produced the book. Thank you to Dr. Britta Müller and Martina Himberger who took the burden to defend and to publish this book. It has been a continious pleasure to get the help form the tex-community where I got posed many questions to make the book look nice. Among those who have contributed tremendously by reading large parts of the German and English version are my wife Beate who helped with the original version, Prof. Hubertus Jarry  in Göttingen and Prof. Ashley Grossman now in Oxford who encouraged me to go on with the English version after reading the 80 % translated and uncorrected intermediate. When you find this book enlightning, please write to me. If you think that issues are wrongly presented, please write to me that I improve the book in a next version. It has been a pleasure to prepare this book, it is an even greater pleasure to see it coming out.

“Hormones and the Endocrine System” will be available soon

We are proud to announce this book to be available in the first weeks of january 2016. It has been proof-read and needs final approval. It has been quite a challenge of interactions between the Black Forest — Heidelberg — England and Chenai/Indien, but we have overcome all the difficulties which arose. In its largest part it is a translation of the German 3rd Edition of “Hormone and Hormonsystem”, but some parts about the Juvenile Hormone and its receptor have been rewritten and differ from the German original.

HOrmones and the Endocrines System
Hormones and the Endocrine System

I would like to receive comments and questions when  you happen to read the book.

The nobel prize for physiology and medicine 2015: William C. Campbell, Satoshi Ōmura, Youyou Tu

This morning the Nobel prize in physiology and medicine 2015 was awarded to research on parasites and malaria.  Willaim C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura share one half for their work on parasites; Youyou Tu gets the other half for identifying new malaria drugs from Traditional Chinese Medicine. I have to eat my hat since I could never imagine something from Traditional Chinese Medicine could be really effective, much less be awarded the Nobel prize, but there it is and I might be more cautious in the time to be.

You have to read the paper of Youyou Tu (2004) where he summarizes his work since his graduation in 1969. It is chemical science starting with material out of the prescription book of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qinghaosu was the first product they found and that is now chemically modified to give much more potent anti-Malaria drugs.

Congratulation to this achievements!

Fig.1:Artemisine - QINGHAOSU
Artemisine – QINGHAOSU

Tools as old as 3.3 Million years – question remains who used them – no homo at that time

The theory that tools are a characteristic feature of homo is challenged: At a site near Lake Turkana in Kenya a team  led by Sonia Harmand of Stony Brook University in New York found a number of artifacts that were by flaking. However, the place was dated later 3.3 Millions year ago, eliminating as the possibility that a homo has done the flaking since they did not exist at that time. The run is now open for the any ancestor who preceded the homo genus and still used tools. (from nature)

Estrogen in insects: again — No Nein njet non

Another paper in Gen.Comp.Endo. addresses the issue “Vertebrate estrogen regulates the development of female characteristics in silkworm, Bombyx mori”. While they use vertebrate estradiol to see its effect on vitellogenin expression, they also analyse whether endogenous estrogen is present. They claim that an endogenous estrogen analogue exists in B. mori.

Very strange, to be polite. Or bullshit, to be honest. The silkworm genome has been almost fully sequenced. The side-chain cleavage enzyme (cyp11a1) are definitely not present as well as the aromatase (cyp19). Without these no chance for any estradiol or analogue.

What they may have found is an estrogen receptor agonist. The literature is full of these. They are usually called endocrine disruptors since they disturb normal estrogen functions. The structures of estrogen receptor agonists are diverse and no clearcut picture has emerged to my knowledge. Such a molecule may well be present in Bombyx mori.

Caution! Not always when estrogen is claimed there is estradiol present!

Who we are

Sometimes it might be difficult to assess who I am, for examplt if I am seriously ill and dependent on other’s care, I feel like a baby. Or I might be fully absent due to heavy thinking or alcohol, and unaware of my surroundings. Then I will look most probably like the idiot who I believe I am not. But in the title of a paper in Current Biology, we learn very clear who we are: This paper is entitled “Rapid Evolution of the Cerebellum in Humans and Other Great Apes”. Thus we are just another great ape. I wonder whether that is fortious or not. I have not yet read the paper but the title stuck.

Andere Grosse Affen
Other Great Apes

Anybody may decide whether the intonation stays with “Other” or “Great” or “Apes”, unfortunately I do not have an image of the author of that article. I would have added it, too.

(The images are all from Wikipedia and believed to be free. If otherwise I will change them.)

BRCA1 – a new role

Mutations in the breast tumor risk gene (BRCA1) make individual susceptible to tumors not only of breasts and ovar, but of many different origins. This is due to the role of BRCA1 in the DNA repair  mechanisms.

A paper in Molecular Cell shows now an additional role for BRCA1: It is involved when the replication fork gets stuck at an interstrand cross which is likely to occur in the presence of the drug Cisplatin. With the help of BRCA1 the CMG helicases, which unwinds the strand to be replicated, are unloaded. Then DNA can be repaired and finally replicated faithfully.

Nicely done.

A new book in Endocrinology

These days I am burdened with the correction of The Endocrine System, our book in an English version. We decided on American English and had to adopt names and terms to that language. Furthermore there were many tiny mistakes in the translation process which have now been eliminated. Thanks to Stuart Evans who has the tremendous job of copyediting my translation. I am fairly optimistic that we will meet the deadline end of the year, and that the book will be published in the middle of the next year.

In the meantime I have read many different articles some of them very interesting on the endocrinological site: a review on gonadotropin inhibiting hormone (GnIH) in General Comparative Endocrinology  which is not heavily involved in man, but in birds controls the Gonadotropin releasing Hormone (GnRH) due to the season with melatonin, the hormone that measures the night length and thus beginning of spring when reproductional activity is initiated. There was the paper of Krause et al. in Nature  on the origin of Europeans which is astonishly complex and full of molecular biology some issues beyond my understanding. The list of contributors is enormous, all the people who privided samples. I still donot know where the meeting was where the data were presented first. And many more papers, however, none catching the eye.

How best to attack a frog being a bat:

Some times the ways we gain our knowledge are intricate: In Nature this week there was an article about fructose-1,6-bisphatase (FBP1) and its role in renal carcinoma which caught my eyes. But today I will not tell this story which is highly interesting mostly for the reason this enzym is essential in normal renal metabolism and inhibits cancers, but fall back to a comment in the same edition “Wooing frogs are bat bait” about a paper in The Journal of Experimental Biology “Risks of multimodal signaling: bat predators attend to dynamic motion in frog sexual displays” which is unfortunately not online.

It is about the tungaro frog (Engystomops pustulosus) and its predator, the fringe-lipped bat (Trachops cirrhosus). It was known before that the bat hunts tungaro frogs. The author Wouter Halfwerk in Panama and his team wanted to know whether the bat is going after the remarkable vocal sac of the frog or its calls. They did not use living frog for this task but dummy frogs which had a vocal sac blowing out and called or dummy frogs which just called. The bats attacked preferentially the dummies with a vocal sac which were calling. I have asked the author for the paper and he sent it to me.

I find the issue interesting for several reason. These are tiny frog (3 cm in size) otherwise the bats which are just 7 to 8 cm long would not be able to catch them and fly away with them. The bats use their optical and echolocation cues to locate male frogs unless European bats which use mostly echolocation. And the third why this is interesting (and found its way in Nature) there is the tremendous risk involved being a male frog and call for a women. You might be caught by a bat before you succeed to copulate. It would be interesting to know whether selection is against the most proud callers and the most foolish that way.

The subject gives you ideas.

Read also the Inside JEB by Kathryn Knight which is free with a picture of the Robofrog.